I Heart Instagram {and some of our other favorite photo apps}

by Cate on April 9, 2013


There’s a popular story where a photographer is eating dinner at a friend’s house. The host remarks on the guest’s photos and how awesome they are. And, of course, asks what type of camera he uses.

Later that night, the guest and the host are talking about the dinner, and the guest says, “Dinner was great, what kind of stove do you have?”

Making the point abundantly clear. It’s not the equipment, it’s the user.

The best camera you have is the one that’s within reach.


Which is one of the many reasons why I love Instagram as much as I do. Because my phone is always in my pocket or (usually) within reach.

And I love that it has spurred a love of photography and documenting moments with the kids. When we’re going about our day-to-day, Nick and Madeline are capturing little moments, big moments, and sharing them. Nick thinks about composition and color. Madeline thinks about whether a photo is good enough to share with the world at large. If she’s in a shot I take, she has veto power if I’m allowed to share it, and there are some times when she’ll ask me not to, or for a retake.

Nick has his own Instagram account, and sometimes searches for different topics or events that interest him at that moment (it is currently all about room design and beaches). He set up an account for Madeline a few weeks ago. I happened to be sitting in a movie theater, waiting for a movie to start, and started getting all these “likes” on some of my Instagram pictures from a new user. And then a comment. “Hi mommy it’s Maddie.”

Cutest thing ever. She doesn’t (as of now) want followers, and just follows me, Nick, and The Ex. She just wanted the account so she could see our pictures. She is a child who always knows exactly what she wants and has very definite opinions. About everything.

Obviously Instagram is one of our favorite iPhone apps. How about a few others?

VSCO (0.99) is one of my two go-tos when it comes to processing a photo I take. It gives photos this awesomely deep richness that I love. It works best with photos that are filled with lots of light, as opposed to darker ones.

Snapster (free) is another favorite. It has a number of filters to process your photos, and their *pro* filter is one I use probably the most, along with the *sarah* filter, *rollins,* and the *pop* filters. The latter of which does a spectrum-like overlay, which is great on light or very white background pictures.

Printing photos from your iPhone is ridiculously simple. I have the tap-to-print mpix app (which I’ve also talked about here). It’s a great company that is geared towards processing work from photographers, but is reasonably priced enough that it’s awesome for everyone. You just tap which photos you want printed, pay with your credit or debit card, and your order will be on your doorstep within a week or so. The quality is really excellent, and many of the photos I have had printed there have been making their way to a new photo wall in our kitchen.

Postal Pix (free) is another useful photo printing app to have, especially if you are a scrapbooker, because of the variety of printing sizes and mediums available. They also give the option of getting your photo printed on aluminum, which I love for displaying in our home.

PicFrame (0.99) is perfect when you want to make a collage of your photos. I use this a lot when I have a bunch of photos I want to Instagram, but I don’t want to overload my feed and followers. It’s also good when you want to show something (a recipe, for example) with steps. There are tons (60+!) of different collage set-ups (frames) to choose from and it’s super simple to use. You can also add text to the photos and share the completed collages to a number of other sites (instagram, facebook, and more).

The Flickr app is another (free) app that has tons of uses. I use it to get the photos off my phone, and so I can get the html code to insert the photos here. Just a few clicks and they’re on Flickr, and because it’s an online photo album,  my pictures are safe (and you can also mark your pictures “private” if you don’t want others to see them).

The TimerCam app (free) lets you set a remote timer so you can set your iPhone down somewhere safe and quickly jump in the shot.

FingerFocus (0.99) is good when you want to call attention to a particular part of the photo. It makes the whole picture slightly blurry, and with your finger, you can swipe the area that you want in focus.


When it comes to organizing my favorite and most-used photo apps, I gave them their own “page” on my phone, so I save time hunting down just the one I need. Sometimes you have a very brief window to capture that special moment, and I don’t want to waste a second.

One more tip. I don’t use the camera that is in the Instagram app. The regular camera or camera+ is much better. And since I discovered other filters in other apps, I rarely use the ones that Instagram has (although when I do, *rise* is one of my favorites). And as with any picture-taking you do, whether it’s with your phone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR, use as much natural light as possible.

Lastly, if you are on Instagram and statistics are your jam, visit Statigram. Once you sign in with your IG account there, you can see all sorts of fun stats, from the first picture you ever posted and how many comments you’ve received since the very beginning, to your “most liked” picture and what filters you use the most. My “most liked” pictures are the ones below, with the aqua-colored shot of our bathroom remaining in the number one spot.


Now it’s your turn … what are YOUR favorite camera apps?

*The pictures of Madeline above are from her birthday. She wouldn’t take a bite until she had gotten the best shot of her chocolate chip bar dessert. I think I’ve created an adorable little monster.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joanne April 10, 2013 at 6:35 am

I am totally boring and just have the instagram app but only take pictures with it when there is enough light that they were turn out (like…a lot of light)…otherwise I just use the phone’s cameras. I’ll have to check the rest of these out!
Joanne recently posted..Recipe: Fettuccine Tangle with Asparagus Puree


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